PSP Kanji Learner is a set of video flash cards designed to help you drill and recall the readings, meanings, and shapes of kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japanese).
These flash cards are in video format to take advantage of the functions of the video player in the XMB; by enabling Shuffle and Sequential Playback, you can emulate drilling with real flash cards because 1) the cards are shuffled so the same video won't play twice, and 2) the sequential playback ends when all the videos in a folder are played. Custom firmware is not required, but Sequential Playback for video requires firmware 3.70 or higher.
Why flash cards? This guy
explains it better than I can!
About the videos
I originally made these videos to be a companion to the most useful kanji dictionary (especially for beginners): The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary
. I chose to include only the readings in this dictionary (written in kana), including some unapproved (but recommended) readings given by the dictionary. If you don't want to bother with those, just stick to the readings on this page
(常用漢字一覧). I also included the English core meanings exactly as they appear in the dictionary.
Just like real flash cards, these videos have front and back sides.
The front side has the kanji, grade level, and the stroke count. You'll also have entries for the following:
- Unicode: ("U____") For example, on the kanji card for "kawa" (river), you'll see "U5ddd". If you only want to type that one character, just type in "5ddd" in a word processor, hit "Alt+X", and "5ddd" will turn into the kanji.
- Classic Nelson entry number ("N____")
- New Nelson entry number ("V____")
- Halpern New Japanese-English Character Dictionary Index ("H____")
- Halpern Kanji Learner's Dictionary Index ("DK____")
The dictionary codes were taken from Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server
On the back, you'll have the on-yomi readings (written in katakana), the kun-yomi readings (written in hiragana), and the English core meaning(s) as provided by the Kanji Learner's Dictionary. The hiragana that appears in parentheses is okurigana, and is not replaced by the kanji. (More on okurigana here
I highly recommend purchasing The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary. Actually having it on hand can save you lots of trouble. For example...
- 右 (DK1888) and 正 (DK2172) both have "RIGHT" as their core meaning, but 右 "RIGHT" means "opposite of left," while 正 "RIGHT" means "correct." I'm not sure why they decided to use the same words for the core meanings (I think I recall this happening other times too), but I'm sure they knew what they were doing in the end.
- Again on core meanings: Sometimes the words chosen are really part of a phrase, and should really be looked at in full in the dictionary. One example is with 募 (DK1492); the core meaning is listed as "RAISE" but it really means "RAISE (troops or funds)"... i.e. "COLLECT."
- The dictionary explains why they listed word suffixes as separate entries. I didn't really like including ALL the readings for 切 (DK15), but again, I suppose they knew what they were doing.
Using the videos
Each release comes with both "A" and "B" sides.
The videos in Side A play the front (kanji side) for 5 seconds and then switch to the back (readings and meanings). Use Side A to test yourself on the readings and meanings.
The videos in Side B play the back (readings and meanings) for 5 seconds and then switch to the front (kanji side). Use Side B to practice recalling how to write each kanji. IMO, writing the same kanji over and over again is a waste of time; people have a hard time writing kanji not because the kanji is technically hard to write, but because it's hard recalling how to write.
While it is possible to write kanji with the proper stroke order just by looking at the printed form, beginners should consult the stroke order diagrams at Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server
- just enter in the kanji and click "SOD" (for "Stroke Order Diagram"). You can also get more writing tips at this page
. Note that the standard printed forms can sometimes be noticeably different from the handwritten forms and can cause beginners to miscount strokes. One example is with 食; the bottom-left corner is one stroke with a hook, not two strokes.
Each release is divided by grade
, but if you are currently taking Japanese courses, try to learn the kanji you're being tested on first. Alternatively, you can learn by frequency
To create your own custom sets, I suggest creating a main "Side A" folder and a main "Side B" folder on your computer and copying all the videos into their respective folders. Using Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server
, enter in the kanji and look for the "DK" entry and use that to find the video file. For example, 川 is listed as the first entry in the Kanji Learner's Dictionary ("DK1"), so look for 0001a.mp4 and 0001b.mp4 to include that in your set on your PSP. Keep in mind that the PSP can only access 1,024 videos total, regardless of folder separation.
I personally wouldn't learn more than 40 or 50 kanji a week (and even that's pushing it), but if having entire sets on hand is important to you, consider purchasing several smaller-sized memory sticks.
Use the Leitner system
to review more efficiently. With a pen and paper on hand, write down the DK reference number (which is also the file name) of the kanji you miss so you can go back and review them.
Finding the flash card of the kanji you want to study shouldn't be a big deal.
- If you can type Japanese on your computer: Simply use Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server, enter in the kanji, and look for the DK entry number.
- If you cannot type Japanese on your computer: Try typing in the reading in Roomaji at this Wikipedia entry (List of jōyō kanji). Then copy and paste the kanji on the WWWJDIC.